Come, let us adore the King our Lord, who is to come.
from the Prophet Isaias
Her time is near at hand, and her days shall not be prolonged. For the Lord will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose out of Israel, and will make them rest upon their own ground: and the stranger shall be joined with them, and shall adhere to the house of Jacob. And the people shall take them, and bring them into their place: the house of Israel shall possess them in the land of the Lord for servants and handmaids: and they shall make them captives that had taken them, and shall subdue their oppressors. And it shall come to pass in that day, that when God shall give you rest from your labor, and from your vexation, and from the hard bondage, wherewith you didst serve before, you shall take up this parable against the King of Babylon, and shall say: “How is the oppressor come to nothing, the tribute hath ceased? The Lord has broken the staff of the wicked, the rod of the rulers, that struck the people in wrath with an incurable wound, that brought nations under in fury, that persecuted in a cruel manner. How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, who didst rise in the morning? How are you fallen to the earth, that did wound the nations: and you said in your heart: I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God, I will sit in the mountain of the covenant, in the sides of the North: I will ascend above the height of the clouds, I will be like the Most High. But yet you shall be brought down to hell into the depth of the pit.”
Your ruin, Lucifer, is irreparable! You refused to humble yourself before God, and you were cast into hell. Your pride then sought a compensation for your deep humiliation, and you caused the ruin of the human race out of hatred for God and his creatures. You succeeded in inspiring him, who was formed out of dust, with that same pride which had caused your own destruction. By you, sin came into this world, and by sin death: the human race seemed now a victim which never could escape your vengeance. Forced to give up your hopes of a heavenly royalty, you aimed to reign in Hell and destroy the creatures of God as they came from his creating love. But again you are foiled and conquered. Your reign was in pride; pride alone could form your court and give you subjects; now, see how the Sovereign Lord of all things uproots your kingdom: he himself comes to teach his creatures humility, and he teaches it, not by laws given with awful majesty, as once on Sinai, but by himself meekly practising that heavenly humility, which alone can raise up them that had fallen by pride. Tremble, proud Spirit, your sceptre is to be broken!
In your haughty wisdom, you disdained this humble and lovely Virgin of Nazareth, who holds within herself, in adoring silence, the mystery of your ruin and our salvation. The Child she carries in her womb, and is so soon to be born, has long since been the object of your contempt. Know, then, that God does not disdain this unborn Child, for this Child is also God, and a single act of adoration and devotedness to his Father, which he is making in the womb of Mary, gives more glory to the Divinity than all your pride could rob it of, even were your pride to increase for eternity. Men, taught by the lessons of a God the immense power of humility, will have recourse to it as their great remedy. Instead of exalting themselves, as you did, by a mad and guilty pride, they will humble themselves with love and pleasure: the lower they humble themselves, the higher will God raise them: the poorer they own themselves, the richer will he make them. It is the glorious Virgin that tells us this in her exquisite Canticle. May she be ever blessed, Mother so gentle and sweet to her children, and so terrible to you, Lucifer, that writhes beneath her as she crushes and conquers you.
Prose for the Time of Advent
- Ready to receive him who reigns for ever and ever, • Devoutly sing, O Christian people; pay your homage to your Creator. • The heavenly hosts, who enjoy the beauty of his countenance, are ever praising him in jubilation. • All earthly things, which are to be examined before his face, are in expectation of him, • Him so severe in judgment, • So merciful in power. • Save us in your mercy, O Christ, for whom you did suffer so cruel a passion. • Raise us up to the bright stars of heaven, O you who does take away the sins of the earth. • True Saviour, descending as dew upon us, drive all dangers from us. • Purify all that is about us, make all in peace; • That here protected by your mercy, we may ascend, hereafter, into the kingdom of heaven in gladness. • Who livest and reignest for endless ages. Amen.
– composed in the 11th century, and taken from the ancient Roman-French Missals
Prayer from the Gallican Sacramentary
O merciful and most loving God, by whose will and bounty our Lord Jesus Christ humbled himself that he might exalt the whole human race, and came down to what was lowest that he might raise up the humble: who, being God, did become man, born of a Virgin, to the end that he might reform in man the heavenly image that had been corrupted; grant, that this your people may cling to you, and that they whom you have redeemed by your bounty may ever please you by devoted service.
– from the book The Liturgical Year: Advent, by the Very Reverend Dom Prosper Gueranger, Abbot of Solesmes, translated from the French by the Revered Dom Laurence Shepherd, Monk of the English-Benedictine Congregation, 2nd edition; published in Dublin Ireland by James Duffy, 15 Wellington-Quay, 1870